Book Review of The Boy From The Woods by Harlan Coben – A Charming Read but far from Harlan Coben’s Best!
My Rating – 3.5 out of 5
Plot Summary – The Boy From The Woods
Harlan Coben, while being a masterful storyteller, veers from the pretty ordinary to superlative, quite frequently – sometimes within the span of two back to back novels. Though over time, his works have been more in the superlative range than in the ordinary. The Boy From The Woods falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, though closer to the superlative mark. I say that because I found the tempo vacillating periodically from the high crest and middling troughs and sometimes the fizz from the narrative goes missing.
Wilde, as the name ironically suggests, was a young boy found roaming aimlessly in the Ramapo State Forest many decades ago by two hikers trekking the trail there. While he was being brought up in State Foster homes of different types, Police tried looking for the boy’s family everywhere, but to no avail. Wilde is now 40+ and works as a Private Investigator and lives on the outskirts of the forest he was found in, two decades ago. He is a loner and loves his privacy and doesn’t socialize much with the people around him.
His mentor, the brilliant criminal attorney Hector Crimstein, asks for Wilde’s help in locating the teenaged Naomi Pine, who’s the classmate of Matthew Crimstein (Hector’s grandson and Wilde’s Godson). It is an intriguing situation as there seems to be no apparent motive behind Naomi’s disappearance. After a bit of searching, and much to everyone’s relief, Naomi is found safe and sound! But much to the chagrin of Wilde, she is quiet about the reasons for her disappearance. Is there more than what seems apparent?
Then, Naomi disappears again! And this time, Crash Maynard, their classmate, and class bully, also vanishes around the same time. Crash’s father, Dash, is a TV producer and friends with Rusty Eggers, who is a politician intent on running for the Presidential election. A ransom note demands that Naomi’s release be linked with payment of a different kind. No money, but a video clip that incriminates Rusty Eggers in a violent crime from many decades ago, is in the possession of Dash Maynard – that video has to be handed over.
Conclusion – Book Review of The Boy From The Woods
This novel promises a lot more than it can deliver. While the plotline seems much rehashed from many novels that have explored a similar theme, the treatment isn’t good enough to elevate the mundane to a higher level. Wilde, with all his eccentricities and idiosyncrasies, remains an outlier in terms of character development. The mystery in this plot is so thin that halfway through the book you’d have figured out what is going to happen by the end of it.
Though in typical thriller fashion there are a few surprises and twists, they are not as unexpected as they should have been, and to be honest, Harlan Coben himself has done much better. Even the 2019 release, Home, was a far more exciting read than The Boy From The Woods. Hopefully, his 2021 release, WIN – a spinoff from his Myron Bolitar series, would be far better!